November 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm (Events)
Tags: enactive cognitive science, higher-level cognition, human cognition, representation, symbolic cognition
We finally organized a meeting to present the edited book “Enactive Cognition at the Edge of Sense-Making: Making Sense of Non-Sense“.
When: 12:00, Nov. 26, 2015
Where: Auditorio César Carrizales, UAEM campus, Cuernavaca, Mexico
We will have one editor (Tom Froese), two authors (Juan Gonzalez and Dobromir Dotov), and several commentators (José Luis Díaz and others) presenting their views.
Attendees will be able to take advantage of a special discount to order their copy of the book from Palgrave Macmillan.
November 9, 2015 at 5:18 am (Presentations)
Tags: altered states of consciousness, hallucinations, human cognition, human prehistory, symbolic mind
I have been invited to give a seminar as part of the Biweekly Colloquium of the Graduate School “Human Development in Landscapes” at the University of Kiel, Germany. The seminar will take place this afternoon, 16:00 – 18:00 Uhr; Building and room LS1 – R.204, Leibnizstrasse 1.
The role of ritualized mind alteration in the origins of the symbolic mind: A new perspective from cognitive science
The potential roles of altered states of consciousness and hallucinations for the early stages of human prehistory have been hotly debated. Recently, this debate has become caught up in disputes about how such altered states could have been induced and what kind of hallucinations might have been experienced. In this article I first sidestep these issues in order to return to the big question of why we might expect such states and experiences to have been important in the first place. I draw on ongoing developments in the cognitive sciences to provide several interdependent reasons for hypothesizing that they played an essential role in the origins and evolution of the symbolic human mind. Finally, I show that this hypothesis is unaffected by current disputes about the potential availability of certain psychoactive substances in prehistoric Africa and Europe.
Selected reading material:
Froese, T. (2013). Altered states and the prehistoric ritualization of the modern human mind. In C. Adams et al. (Eds.), Breaking Convention: Essays on Psychedelic Consciousness (pp. 10-21). London: Strange Attractor Press
Froese, T. (2015). The ritualised mind alteration hypothesis of the origins and evolution of the symbolic human mind. Rock Art Research, 32(1), 90-97
Froese, T., Woodward, A., & Ikegami, T. (2013). Turing instabilities in biology, culture, and consciousness? On the enactive origins of symbolic material culture. Adaptive Behavior, 21(3), 199-214
October 27, 2015 at 1:14 pm (Publications)
Tags: cognitive robotics, consciousness, embodied AI, perception, qualia, sensorimotor approach
As part of the Frontiers in Robotics and AI research topic “Re-enacting sensorimotor experience for cognition” we published a book review on this topic.
Book review: Contemporary sensorimotor theory
Tom Froese and Franklenin Sierra
Consciousness, with its irreducible subjective character, was almost exclusively a philosophical topic until relatively recently. Today, however, the problem of explaining the felt quality of experience has also become relevant to science and engineering, including robotics and AI: “What would we have to build into a robot so that it really felt the touch of a finger, the redness of red, or the hurt of a pain?” (O’Regan, 2014, p. 23). Yet a practical response still requires an adequate theory of consciousness, which brings us back to the hard problem: how can we account, from a scientific point of view, for the phenomenological character of experience? Over a decade ago, O’Regan and Noë (2001) proposed a new approach to these questions, the so-called sensorimotor approach to perceptual experience. How far has this approach come and what are its outstanding challenges? The volume Contemporary Sensorimotor Theory, edited by Bishop and Martin, takes stock of the current state of the field.
July 21, 2015 at 4:25 am (Presentations)
To start off this year’s ECAL in York, I participated in the workshop on Open Ended Evolution: Recent Progress and Future Milestones. The tile and abstract of my mini presentation are as follows:
Groundlessness avoids openness reduction in hierarchies of emergence
One way of measuring open-endedness is in terms of the maintenance or increase of degrees of freedom. If emergence is defined as the collective dynamics resulting from nonlinear coupling between two or more components, then the degrees of freedom of the emergent phenomenon cannot in principle be greater than the sum of degrees of freedom of its underlying components. In practice, it tends to be less than that sum because the collective dynamics are subject to more constraints than the isolated dynamics of each component. The same logic applies to the creation of novelty at each emergent level of organization, thereby rapidly choking off possibilities for open-ended emergence of new layers of complexity. This is not a problem in practice if we consider nature to have sufficient degrees of complexity to begin with (although this is a problem for simulations). I propose that this is not even a problem in principle if we consider nature to be groundless (although this excludes simulations by definition).
The workshop will continue with a follow-up session on Friday.
July 18, 2015 at 1:04 pm (Events)
Tags: agent-based models, artificial life, evolutionary robotics, origins of life, synthetic biology, theoretical biology
Next year’s International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (Artificial Life XV) will take place in beautiful Cancun, Mexico, July 4-8, 2016. I am part of the local organizing team, helping to make the first Alife conference in Latin America a memorable event.
For more information see the conference website: http://xva.life
July 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm (Presentations)
Tags: artificial life, genetic system, Motility, origins of life
Next week the European Conference on Artificial Life 2015 will take place in York, England, July 20-24. I will be giving a poster presentation on the following topic:
Toward a behavior-based approach to the origins of life and the genetic system
In the origin of life community there has been a dispute about whether metabolism or replication came first. Yet both of these approaches are in implicit agreement that the first forms of life were basically passive. That shared assumption has begun to be challenged by a new generation of metabolism-first approaches, emphasizing that movement and adaptive behavior could have played an important role right from the start. After introducing recent research on this behavior-based approach to the origin of life, I offer a preliminary assessment of what this new approach implies for the origins of the genetic system.
Click on the title to download the extended abstract.